The Bow-Tied Blogger

The life and adventures of one soldier and his various journeys.

  Monday, February 12, 2007

Review Time

I was planning to make my reviews in sequence, but a certain post by our favorite gun-toting beauty has given me the decision to choose my next review:

When Bad Things Happen to Good People: Twentieth Anniversary Edition by Harold Kushner

Now, this book was written a while back and inspired by a senseless tragedy. Rabbi Kushner had a son afflicted with accelerated aging who would die in his teens. The book is not about why God does or allows such things to happen, but how to handle them when they do. Why does a child starve while Josef Stalin lived to an old age? Honestly I can't answer, and I'd probably be a little disturbed by the answer. The real question to answer is how do you help the mother who lost her child?

The world is a harsh and often brutal place. Of course, if the world were perfect and had no hardships, life would have no purpose, too. In the book, Rabbi Kushner uses the Book of Job and discusses how a good and righteous man suffered on account of a bet, and he talks about the reactions given. Some would say that the misfortune was brought about by past wickedness or that being more righteous would end it. Both answers are offensive and insulting. In some cases, the problesm are self-inflicted, like my father's larnyx cancer. He chose to smoke heavily and he develops a cancer. That does not mean he is wicked, just that he made bad choices. Most cases of cancer are not as easily linked, but just happen, and it is a horrible thing, and takes so many lives. There is no reason why that happens. To Rabbi Kushner the correct question to ask God isn't "Why are You doing this", but, "Please help me deal with this."

I guess my life has been pretty easy as the hardest death to hit me was the loss of a cat. When my grandprents died, they were older and in pain, so in some ways I considered death a liberator. Other areound me have died, but I wasn't too close to them. I am also very thanksful no one I am close to has died in Iraq, though that may happen. I don't know entirely how I'll react. I also have a somewhat chilled relationship with my immediate family, so their deaths will affect me, but not immensely, perhaps because I expect it to eventually happen.

I have a cousin who is dying of colon cnacer. He is an amusing character, but I do not feel great sadness for myself. The only thing that saddens me is thinking about hsi wife and children, and how his death will affect them. To ask God to expand his life is arrogant and fruitless; I'd rather ask that my cousins's family be better able to cope with his loss.

While loss of life is not as big a tragedy for me as it is for others, I have faced other tragedies in life. I spend too much tiem thinking about how to avoid them or make things different, and I only detest myself more. Instead, I should think of what I do next. Do I get busy living or get busy dying?

Granted this book does not follow my cold nature, but it offers wisdom and how to help people who suffer from tragedy. I definitely recommend this book, especially if you have suffered loss recently or if those you know and love have, or if you are upset by the loss of a stranger.

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Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

Interestingly enough, that's exactly the book I was recommended shortly after my grandmother's passing almost two years ago. (My, doesn't time fly, whether you're having any fun or not?!) I guess the practical advice certainly makes sense - you can't spend all your time asking rhetorical questions; you have to cope and move on. At the same time, however, there's no denying that one's gut reaction when something terrible just happens is to vent and question. The rational thought process will kick in eventually.

2/13/2007 08:24:00 PM  

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